Weeks of gridlock 'likely'
Main Roads implemented traffic control measures at the corner of Hamilton Road and the Great Northern Highway last week after fed-up motorists said roadworks had turned the streets of South Hedland into a "carpark".
Light vehicles were bumper-to-bumper for kilometres, with the traffic jam last Tuesday morning stemming from the GNH T-junction, to the South Hedland Police Station, almost to Buttweld Road along North Circular Road.
The congestion was created by the closure of Wallwork Road to enable John Holland Group contractors to complete the final stages of the new Wallwork Road Bridge.
The closure meant motorists travelling from South Hedland were forced to choose from two detour options, creating a bottleneck at the only exit points at Hamilton and Buttweld roads.
Town of Port Hedland Mayor Kelly Howlett asked for traffic lights to be installed after she received phone calls from disgruntled motorists begrudging "the slowness and being held there for a long time", with one person complaining of a 25-minute delay.
"We want to get it right for (this week) because school returns," she said.
The Town advised Wallwork Road would reopen on Monday, May 19.
John Holland senior project manager David Ide said the group appreciated the community's patience.
"When complete mid-May, the new bridge will improve traffic flow and eliminate delays associated with the existing level crossing."
Main Roads maintenance co- ordinator Mick Edwards said traffic levels were due to increase this week.
"Last week was probably a quiet week, compared to what it's going to be like from now on," he said.
"As soon as you throw a couple of trains into the equation, you can get traffic gridlock all the way through, so you need people out there to relieve each leg.
"I don't think they realised how much traffic was going through there - especially during the peak hours during the morning."
South Hedland police Senior Sergeant Mick Hayes said the congestion was "potentially a headache for emergency vehicles".
"It will effectively lock out South Hedland at certain times … and it will likely back up Wedgefield," he said last Tuesday.
"They can't fix it in the short term, it is only a month but it will be a long month.
"I can see it being an absolute nightmare - Wedgefield will be at an absolute standstill."
A spokesman from Fortescue Metals Group, which runs the Hamilton Motel on Hamilton Road, said while short traffic delays were experienced by some employees, they had no impact on operations.
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